Theatre season at Orillia Opera House features new Foster comedy

Debbie-Collins-Terri-Cherniack (Custom)

It’s not every day that a Canadian theatre can delight its audience with a brand new play from Canada’s favourite playwright, but that’s happening at the Orillia Opera House. OOH Artistic Director Jesse Collins, a friend and colleague of Foster for nearly forty years, directs and designs the world premiere of Doris and Ivy in the Home, opening on June 28. 

It’s a boon for the summer theatre in the Sunshine City and a feather in the cap of the Orillia Opera House theatre team.

Doris and Ivy in the Home is the female version of one of Foster’s most successful plays — Jonas and Barry in the Home.

“I originally programmed ‘Jonas and Barry’ for the slot to open our season,” recalls Collins. “But during the pandemic hiatus, Norm sent me this play. When I read it, I couldn’t stop laughing. My mother is in a retirement home, and it was all so relatable. I was over the moon when he asked us to create the very first production. Very few theatres get that opportunity with a Norm Foster original.”

Co-produced with Upper Canada Playhouse in Eastern Ontario, the play features three of Canada’s finest - audience favourite Debbie Collins, and newcomers to Orillia, but seasoned theatre veterans, Daniel Karpenchuk and Terri Cherniack. Originally from Western Canada, Cherniak has been featured in Calendar Girls for Mirvish Productions, Dancing at Lughnasa for the NAC, The Philadelphia Story at Theatre Calgary as well as productions at Tarragon Theatre, Neptune Theatre, Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre and more. Daniel Michael Karpenchuk has performed at such theatres as Brampton’s Rose Theatre and St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival, and has appeared in TV’s Murdoch Mysteries and Mayday. 

Debbie Collins is a Simcoe County stalwart, last seen in the 2019 Opera House hit, Where You Are. Collins has had a prolific and varied stage career headlined by her one-woman tour de force The Judy Garland Story which has wowed audiences at the Stirling Festival, Theatre Orangeville, Orillia Opera House, Brockville Arts Centre, Lighthouse Theatre and many more. 

Jesse Collins (who often jokes that he and Debbie aren’t related though probably share an ancient ancestor) is an Emmy-nominated director, with dozens of plays to his credit at major theatres across the country. He also directed the original production of Foster’s The Ladies Foursome.

Canada’s preeminent comic playwright, Norm Foster is an Officer of the Order of Canada, and has seventy-five plays to his credit including The Foursome, On A First Name Basis, The Love List, Outlaw, Lunenburg, Hilda’s Yard, Renovations For Six, Halfway There and Come Down From Up River. He is the recipient of the Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award for his play, The Melville Boys. Foster makes his home in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The Orillia Opera House summer theatre season continues with Doris and Ivy in the Home from June 29 to July 15, Driving Miss Daisy by Alfred Uhry, July 20 to August 12; and another Foster
hit, Come Down From Up River runs from August 17 to September 2. Tickets are available at or the box office at (705) 326-8011.